Funny how our brains work. One day it fools us into believing that a colony of butterflies is building a home in our abdomen; a couple of weeks later, it tells them to completely migrate somewhere else. To their convenience, of course, there are leftovers—some haystack used to finish the ceiling, or dying flower petals in their kitchen.
This post will not, however, talk about the natural habitat of animals in the Insecta class—although I must concur that it is a very appealing subject. Instead, we will talk about pain and ego, two mythical creatures that—just like those butterflies—share a nest inside our chest, although—unlike those butterflies—they usually stay. In fact, they stick with you religiously even when you want them gone. They’re loyal like that.
Remember Anna Karenina’s first sentence—“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I’d like to anchor that proposition to an underlying possibility: all pleasures are similar, but every pain is irritating in its own way. Pain leaves a unique scar every time it touches you; depending on the degree, it also owns the power to change you into somebody you don’t want to be.
Whoever said pain demands to be felt, had no idea that pain is just a side effect of healing. When your body’s temperature rises, for instance, it’s not because the virus wants you to be aware of the trouble it causes you—it’s your immune system fighting back. If anything, mortals should embrace pain, for it signals the arrival of the remedial phase.
In other words: pain is not an end, it’s a means. A resource, if you might.
Of all pains, the most politically supported one to claim throne is that of a broken hearted person. Because what could’ve been more wounding than an unrequited love? To find out that the man/woman you dearly care about does not reciprocate, must’ve bashed your heart to the ground; or at least numbed it off for a little while.
I would’ve thought so, too—had I not been introduced to another breed of pain: that of not being able to love back, no matter how hard you’ve tried. You might think that being loved is simple: it’s a blessing from the universe, to have another living soul beaming affection onto your worthless self. But ‘being loved’ also endorses the power—or, as I’d like to call it, ‘the burden’—to hurt, to cause pain onto somebody else. And not just ‘somebody else’—it’s the very person who would trade the world to make you happy.
Love is beautiful when there is give and take—life is created upon cyclical patterns after all. Our lungs breath in and out, humans return to earth as soon as they die, while capitalism prevails because market lets you buy and sell at the same time. Mutualism sustains, but imbalanced bond destroys.
Being the party who only receives does not only make you an involuntary villain, but also a depressed black hole, incapable of providing back. And the thing about black holes, they grow. The more you feed them, the bigger they get, and sooner or later, they will end up eating themselves.
The most deranged part of this scheme: you have absolutely no control upon it. It’s like standing just one step behind the line to ‘perpetual happiness’ zone, and yet you could not move your foot any inch closer.
What a pain, don’t you think, to be deeply loved by someone you can’t love back.
Centuries of civilization has benefitted from ego—it sent ships to conquer a new world, delivered humans to the moon, and killed several along the way. For all I know, ego is an open-sourced energy, you are free to use it as you wish. When it comes to pain, however, one thing is clear: ego makes pain bearable. Your love for yourself, no matter how small it might be, helps you survive through pain—all kinds of them. The typically-evil thought of “you deserve better” or “this isn’t your fault” is exactly what you should hold on to, in order to get to the finish line and name yourself a champion.
Whenever an opportunity presents itself, ego walks around with hatred. Sometimes, the latter takes over and professes itself to be in charge. When this happens, of course, pain will hide and pretend it doesn’t exist, because obviously hatred makes you feel a lot better than pain does.
This is probably why most people succumb to hating the people they used to love. They don’t have to, you know, it’s just one of the easiest self-defense mechanism they could afford. Because the other alternative would hurt even more: declaration of dependence narrowly shows weakness, and one cannot bear pain unless they’re strong. Strong they’d rather become, without realizing that under the curtain, pain still works its due—altering them into a slightly less-trusting mind.
No two people experience the same pain, so maybe humans were never meant to really understand each other. Regardless, I know for a fact that there are people who opt for the most genuine interaction with pain—they do not let ego (nor hatred) distort what they should have felt.
They let pain humanize them, bringing back the primitiveness of being helpless and in need.
Together, pain and ego dance their way off whenever our subconsciousness calls for them. Their favorite music, to nobody’s surprise, is human connection—although they might as well enjoy the internal doubts humans cast upon themselves.